← Today I Learned

Use CSS variables in a <dialog> backdrop

I was building a native modal using the new(ish) <dialog> element when I realized that I couldn’t use CSS variables (officially called custom properties) in the ::backdrop pseudo-element.

I found this Stack Overflow post that links to a (now-removed) paragraph in the spec for the ::backdrop:

It does not inherit from any element and is not inherited from. No restrictions are made on what properties apply to this pseudo-element either.

Since variables propagate via inheritance, that means that the ::backdrop doesn’t have access to variables defined on the :root selector.

Fortunately, the fix is pretty simple: just define any variables that should be globally available on both the :root and ::backdrop selectors.

::backdrop {
  --some-variable-name: 10px;
  --some-other-variable-name: #f00;
  /* etc etc */